Some examples of real world multiplication arrays are a crate of oranges or a box of chocolates with a certain number of oranges or chocolates in each row and column. For example, a crate could have 12 oranges across and eight oranges down, or a box could have five chocolates across and four chocolates down. Other examples are a marching band set up in equal rows or chairs in an auditorium arranged in equal rows.
Multiplication arrays provide a visual representation of a multiplication problem to make it easier for students to understand the concept of multiplication as repeated addition. For example, in a four by three array, students would be able to see that 4 x 3 is the same thing as 4 + 4 + 4 or 3 + 3 + 3 + 3. Arrays are useful when children are learning their multiplication tables.
Arrays are also helpful when multiplying large numbers because children can use the array to break the problem down into easier chunks. For example, 13 x 5 becomes 10 x 5 + 3 x 5. Division problems are also made easier by implementing arrays. In a 5 x 3 array, a student would be able to see that 15 items put into three rows creates five columns.